When we purchased our honeymoon tickets, we decided to fly Air New Zealand Works Deluxe. It’s basically similar to the Premium Economy experience that you get on long haul flights and we decided that since it was our honeymoon that it would be worth the splurge. It gives you a larger baggage allowance (which we didn’t use), priority service on the plane, a neighbour-free guarantee (so in rows of three seats, only Papa M and I would be seated in them, giving some sprawl space) premium check-in and Koru Lounge passes.
We arrived at the airport and our eyes boggled at how long the regular check-in line was already – we had thought that an early morning flight would be quieter. We quickly found the premium check-in area and our checked luggage was processed very quickly. It was pretty neat to be able to go up in the lift and bypass normal security by going through a premium desk. Papa M did a little bit of duty free shopping and I had a quick natter to a work colleague, K, who I bumped into as she was leaving for her sabbatical. It was then up to the Koru Lounge, Air New Zealand’s premium lounge. Oh my goodness, it was awesome – food was delicious and the barista was awesome. Little was I to know that would be my last cafe style coffee for ten days, I might have got another if I had known.
It was definitely nice to have the spare room on the plane to sprawl out. I watched Pitch Perfect as my inflight movie, played a little bit of iPad Monopoly with Papa M and then read a little but we were there very quickly – it was amazing how fast four hours slid away. We arrived at Faleolo Airport and hopped off the plane into sweltering heat – it knocked us both a bit for six. There was some awkwardness at customs – got a sideways look as I tried to declare bottled water but I figured better safe than sorry. The airport was overwhelmingly busy and we were very confused on how to find our car, luckily a very kind lady from Polynesian Explorer was on the look out for us and got us sorted with both car and ferry tickets. We’d definitely recommend them for future travelers.
With the little Hyundai Getz in hand it was off to the resort. It’s important to note that road signs in Samoa appear to be non-existent, it definitely pays to navigate with a map and pay close attention to the names of villages. We missed the first turnoff for the resort so continued through to Apia – two laned roads! Traffic! We didn’t go into Apia itself but took the cross-island road (that’s it’s name) to the resort, which was an adventure in itself. The cyclone has left some major pot holes and washouts on the road but it sort of added to the experience!
We arrived at Sinalei Reef Resort and were greeted with tropical punch at the front desk. It was lovely to be upgraded to an Ocean View bungalow as part of our honeymoon package. We also received lava lavas and vouchers for two free cocktails, and two free massages. It was such a blessing to be able to enter our air-conditioned bungalows and just flop down on the bed – we were both starting to feel the effects of poor sleep and early starts that morning. It sure didn’t hurt that we had such great views out our window!
Once we were somewhat revived we headed out to the poolside bar to grab those cocktails. I had a pina colada, which was to become my cocktail of choice for the holidays. We were informed that it was BBQ buffet dinner night that night and started to get quite excited. The menu offered a lot of contemporary Samoan fusion options and got us really excited about the food we might experience this holiday – we’re total foodies. My favourite meat was the pork, Papa M’s was fish!
We woke up at about nine and think that was just due to the light. I actually ended up dozing later that morning; still had some accumulated sleep debt and the heat doesn’t help. We were certainly not the only tourists that seemed to feel the need to siesta. It was quite a comparison to the industrious resort workers who were busy at work cleaning up the vegetation on the property post-cyclone! Breakfast was a combination of tropical + cooked breakfast. I loved all the fresh papaya, it’s not really an affordable option in New Zealand. We lazed away the morning on our deck until a light rain rolled in, then we just chillaxed (and I slept) in our fale until lunch.
For lunch I had Island Fries – basically thinly sliced starchy fruit and vegetables, no potato. It really was the start of our love affair with taro, I need to learn how to prepare it at home! Papa M had bruschetta. Lunch was definitely our small meal of the day, it’s just hard to eat that much in the heat of the day. We would later find out that many Samoans only eat two large meals a day – one mid-morning and one in the late afternoon, early evening. After lunch we went for a walk in the more cyclone-damaged area of the resort and realised just how lucky we were to be able to stay in the resort at all!
After letting lunch go down, we went for an afternoon swim. I made Papa M give me a freestyle lesson because I’m not very good at swimming that stroke. We had a drink at Uncle Harry’s (the pool bar) and then freshened up before dinner. We were both famished after the afternoon swim so were first in the dining fale. We had bread with lots of yummy dips and spicy tuna cakes for starters, Rob had coconut snapper for his main and I had slow-roasted pork. I liked that my starchy side was arrowroot! Potatoes weren’t getting much of a look in here
We were both a little surprised at how early night falls here. While it made for lovely sunset dinners, it put a little bit of a damper on any big after-dinner activities. We tried to go for a walk along the beach at dusk but I got the willies when I scared a great big crab. They don’t show that in the movies! There was lots of wildlife around at night. The skinks like to bask on the pool lights and we stumbled across two hermit crabs on the boardwalk. All in all though, it was a great first full day of honeymoon!